Individual counseling for substance abuse is an effective treatment method for people with addiction and/or mental illness. However, it’s not just for people who suffer from addiction. It’s also for those who need to confront issues in their lives.

Psychotherapy helps people take control of their lives and teaches them healthy coping skills for stressful situations. At North Jersey Recovery Center, located in Fair Lawn, NJ, our team treats each case of addiction and/or mental illness based on our patient’s individual needs.

What is Individual Therapy?

Individual therapy is a method of counseling for people who suffer from addiction or mental health disorders, such as mental health issues, trauma, addiction, or general emotional struggles. Also widely known as talk therapy, individual drug counseling can have a beneficial effect on a person’s well-being and mental health. Therapy offers a safe space for you to open up about your feelings and experiences with a trained professional like a psychologist or licensed mental health counselor.

If you take part in this type of counseling, you can expect a personalized approach. Talk therapy consists of a one-on-one, 45-minute to 60-minute session with a counselor that is usually weekly. During your sessions, you will talk about anything that is concerning or bothering you, and throughout your treatment, you will learn how to cope with the thoughts and behaviors you’re experiencing. Therapy sessions can occur throughout anywhere from a few sessions (short-term) to months or years (long-term).

Although the specific goals of your personalized therapy will be determined by you and your therapist, there are a few general things that it can help with:

  • Inability to sleep
  • Coping with daily life
  • Controlling or eliminating troubling symptoms
  • Life transitions, like divorce, death, or career changes
  • Recovering from abuse, whether it be physical, emotional, or sexual

During addiction treatment programs, addiction counseling may be used in conjunction with medication. For this type of therapy to be successful, both the patient and the psychologist must be committed to attending sessions. During a daily/weekly therapy session, a person will be able to go through these feelings/thoughts in a safe and open environment.

What Happens During Individual Drug Counseling?

In individual psychotherapy, you will confront many deep-seated issues and traumatic life situations that have led to drug and alcohol addiction. A person’s mental health plays a vital role in a person’s turn towards drugs. It is extremely common for people to have a dual diagnosis.

Addiction doesn’t just begin out of nowhere; it can take years to develop. When people encounter events like these, they may feel ashamed or scared to talk about them. As a result, they tend to bury their emotions and turn to substance use for comfort. These emotions/thoughts are focused on during psychotherapy sessions.

The ultimate goals of your therapy sessions (and how many sessions you need) will be determined by you and your psychologist. Again, you can talk to your therapist about virtually anything that is on your mind. For people moving away from frequent drug use, there will be more specific issues to talk about. These can include:

  • Identifying triggers
  • Changing thinking patterns
  • Confronting difficult memories
  • Relapse prevention
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How Individual Therapy Helps Address Co-occurring Disorders

Triggers can be anything from people to objects or situations that may set off a craving or mental distress. In therapy, you will work on identifying these triggers and learn how to avoid them. If some triggers are unavoidable, like running into a particular person on the street, therapy will teach you how to deal with such triggers healthily.

Individual therapy will also aid in relapse prevention. Whenever you are admitted to rehab, the first step will be a medical detox administered by clinical staff. This will cleanse your body of any harmful substances and wean you off of them. Even once the physical dependence on drugs is gone, however, there is still more work to be done. This is where aftercare, which includes different types of therapy options, comes in. Your therapist will work with you to ensure that you don’t turn to drugs again.

When you first walk into therapy, you may find it hard and stressful to confront stressful memories. You may cry or feel angry or mentally exhausted. Over time, however, you will learn to open up to your therapist and feel more comfortable in your sessions. He or she will become your trusted confidant. Addiction treatment services including talk therapy are a vital part of the recovery process.

Types Of Individual Counseling For Substance Abuse

There are many types of therapy options you can choose from. Which one you enroll in depends on which will be the most effective for someone in your situation. Those with a dual diagnosis benefit greatly from addiction and mental health counseling. Below are a select few of the many categories of individual therapy.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Detox is often the first step in drug and alcohol addiction treatment. Although this is necessary for cleansing your body of harmful substances, it is not all you need to recover from your drug and substance abuse. A residential or outpatient program is needed after this process to reach optimal recovery.

In August 2018, the American Medical Association (AMA) released a statement calling on policymakers to have compassion for those suffering from opioid addiction. The call comes after statistics showed that 72,000 fatal drug overdoses and 88 thousand annual deaths were attributed to excessive alcohol use in 2017 alone, a sobering statistic that should not go ignored or unanswered by any means necessary.

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) has shown to be an effective way of treating addiction. MAT is designed for individuals who are addicted and need treatment. The therapy component, which continues even after patients leave their residential treatment program can help tackle the root cause of addiction in them as well as provide mechanisms that will allow them coping skills during this challenging time while reintegrating back into daily life.

Combining medications, like those that are FDA approved and prescribed for other disorders in combination with counseling or behavioral therapies can provide a more comprehensive approach than traditional drug rehabilitation programs offer.

More About Medication-Assisted Treatment

MAT is best undertaken in a residential treatment program under the supervision of health professionals who can monitor withdrawal symptoms and reactions to medications. Methadone, for instance, cannot be prescribed but must rather only be administered clinically because it has powerful effects on users if taken home without professional monitoring – not just physically but also psychologically concerning mental illness that may have developed over time.

Aftercare is an essential part of treatment that will positively affect the way you think about drugs and alcohol since these substances have negatively affected your brain. Our MAT program and other New Jersey addiction resources can help.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a branch of individual psychotherapy that focuses on people’s thoughts rather than their behaviors. CBT combines cognitive (learning) and behavioral theories to show that how you perceive a situation determines a reaction rather than the reality of the situation.

Through CBT, therapists will identify certain thoughts that are harmful and replace them with more positive and healthy ones. This therapy can help individuals to see what thought patterns and behaviors contribute to addiction in their lives.

This type of therapy focuses on the present rather than the past. In your therapy sessions, you will have to recall painful and often upsetting thoughts about your problems. Together with your therapist, you will determine if these thoughts are realistic. You might also have homework in which you will apply your new skills in your everyday life.

Any remotely negative thought patterns could contribute to your addiction and mental health. This is why it’s important to identify and understand these thoughts to uncover the reason why you began abusing substances. The goal of CBT is for patients to be actively involved in their treatment so they can understand that how they approach everyday situations is important.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the most common types of therapy out there today. CBT successfully treats substance use, trauma-related conditions, anxiety, depression, and eating disorders.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) is a type of CBT that helps regulate emotions. It does this by using the theory of dialectics or balancing opposites. Instead of promoting an “either-or” outlook on life, DBT takes a “both-and” approach. This therapy gives the patient a way to look at two differing perspectives at once. This helps you promote balance and avoid looking at issues as black or white. The main “balancing opposites” of DBT are change and acceptance.

DBT has been known to treat borderline personality disorder (BPD), mood disorders such as bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and eating disorders.

Interpersonal Therapy

Interpersonal therapy aims to improve a patient’s interpersonal relationships, which can be greatly damaged by addiction. It does this by focusing on 4 areas:

  • Addressing interpersonal shortfalls, like unfulfilling relationships and social isolation
  • Managing unresolved grief related to the death of a loved one
  • Major life transitions, like moving to another city or getting divorced
  • Conflicts with family members, close friends, or coworkers

Interpersonal therapy sessions are structured, with homework and regular assessments, and they usually take place over 12 to 16 weeks. In the beginning, your therapist will look at any depressive symptoms you have, as well as your close relationships.

By the end of your treatment, relationship patterns will improve for the better. When you have better relationships with your family, friends, and coworkers, your life will improve and you can move away from substance abuse. Interpersonal therapy can effectively treat co-occurring disorders, including drug abuse, alcoholism, bipolar disorder, and eating disorders.


Biofeedback is a therapy technique that helps people take more control of how their bodies function. This therapy monitors a person’s physiological state and then “feeds” information on it back to them. Once they receive it, they receive training to control aspects of their physiology during therapy sessions. This, in turn, will help manage symptoms of psychological conditions like an addiction.

Benefits of Individual Counseling for Substance Abuse

Whether you want to tackle immediate issues or complex and long-standing ones, individual therapy offers numerous benefits to those who seek it:

  • It provides you with one-on-one attention
  • It gives you tools to resolve conflicts
  • It’s confidential and respects your privacy
  • It helps you manage unhealthy reactions
  • It gives you time for individual growth
  • Can help with relapse prevention

Individual therapy can be done at your convenience, and the pace can go however fast or slow you need it to be. Your therapist will work with you to figure out the best time to meet and also determine how long each of your sessions will be.

Therapy also gives you the added benefit of confidentiality. In group therapy where multiple people can hear what you say. But everything said in individual therapy will stay between you and your therapist and will not leave the room (therapist and client privacy). Individual counseling is a safe and private environment.

You also receive one-on-one attention in individual therapy. Group therapy allows multiple people to speak up and discuss their feelings with others, but you may not be comfortable in this kind of environment. With the personal attention that individual therapy brings, you’ll find it easier to open up and be vulnerable. While group therapy is also effective for mental health services, certain treatment services may not work for everyone.

Conflicts in life are never easy to deal with. However, personalized therapy can give you skills that will help you to face these conflicts head-on through several different techniques. These may involve meditation, mantras, and practicing confronting loved ones during sessions. Over time, your normally unhealthy reactions to situations will be replaced with better ones.

How Individual Counseling and Family Therapy Go Hand-In-Hand

Family therapy is a powerful experience. Sometimes it’s an adjunct tool to go hand in hand with individual therapy. Family counseling is useful for everyone involved, including the family members who may not be sure what all benefits it offers.

The process of family intervention at our counseling center starts by identifying problems within your relationships before moving on to how you would improve these issues. Family counseling is not based on blame. Instead, it’s about empowering each family member and the entire group to feel more confident in meeting individual needs.

During individual counseling, we help people improve communication skills so everyone feels heard. This includes re-aligning values and behaviors, creating new traditions from scratch if they don’t exist already, all while striving towards wholeness as a whole unit rather than focusing singularly on any one person.

Individual Therapy at North Jersey Recovery Center Can Help You!

At North Jersey Recovery Center, we strive to make sure you are living your best life without drugs and alcohol. Recovering from substance abuse and mental health issues can be exhausting and stressful. Sometimes, it can even seem impossible. But it doesn’t have to feel that way!

We offer dual diagnosis treatment services, including addiction and mental health evidence-based methods that will address your individual and specific needs. Contact us today and one of our experienced medical professionals will guide you toward the best treatment program to help you overcome addiction and manage your mental disorder effectively. Help at North Jersey Recovery Center is one call away!